REACTIONS are still pouring in over the recent rebasing exercise that paraded Nigeria as Africa’s largest economy. The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala had disclosed on Sunday, April 6, 2014, that Nigeria is now the economic giant of Africa ahead of South Africa after a rebasing of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The latest indices put Nigeria’s GDP at N80.3 trillion or $509.9 billion, an increase from the $42.3 trillion estimated before the rebasing exercise.
The minister, however, warned that it is not yet time to celebrate, that the rebasing exercise was not aimed at announcing the wealth of the nation but targeted at informing Nigerians of economic development over the last two decades.
“We didn’t set out to become the largest economy in Africa. We set out to measure how much the economy has changed. Becoming the largest economy on the continent is a positive development but it is not our destination. The knowledge derived will help us make better policies to grow the economy and create jobs for young Nigerians.
“Nigerians have worked hard to make our economy the largest in Africa and they should be proud of the feat, but it is also a challenge and an opportunity. The results of the rebasing exercise will not make the challenges of poverty and unemployment disappear overnight.”
The position of analysts on this issue is that no economic policy can be applauded if it cannot translate to better living conditions for the people. The All Progressives Congress (APC), through the National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed described the latest development as a mere orchestrated distraction and public relations tools employed by the government to give itself a good standing in the face of Nigerians.
“The Federal Government has only succeeded in opening itself for ridicule. This is because if ever there was a clear play at oxymoron, this is it. The largest economy with the largest population of the poor, the largest economy with the largest population of unemployed, the largest economy with the largest population of citizens living in darkness and the largest economy with the worst infrastructure. Simply put, there is too much poverty in the midst of plenty and the so-called economic growth which the Federal Government has been trumpeting with it’s dubious statistics is not a result of any deliberate government policies. Policies of government are expected to result in reduction in unemployment, increase in capacity utilization by manufacturers, increased access to basic needs of life, increase in transparency and accountability. On the contrary, the country continues to slip down the ladder in all these fronts.”
The Nigerian Labour Congress believes better living conditions, employment, revival of dying industries and security are the only indices of an economic growth. Just as the union applaud the Federal Government for this new rebasing exercise, the NLC insisted a good GDP without sustainable and viable jobs and food on the table of the common man is a time bomb ready to explode.
– FOLUSO SAMUEL